Hillsborough Democrats elect new officers

12/02/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Last month, Hillsborough County Democrats voted for Barack Obama for President, and knocked out key Republicans Buddy Johnson and Brian Blair in local elections.

Still high off that success, last night an overflow crowd of Hillsborough Democrats voted to elect Pat Kemp their new chairperson. She defeated Brandon-based consultant James Randolph.

Kemp has been involved in county politics for two decades, while Randolph is not as well known, working in eastern Hillsborough. But in his brief speech to members of the Democratic Executive Committee last night, he said a change was in order.

In the end, it wasn’t close. Kemp took 135 votes to Randolph’s 45.

After that vote, Kemp – who is married to WMNF Program Director Randy Wynne - said one of her goals was to increase participation in Hillsborough DEC meetings. Although more than 180 people voted last night, Kemp says non-election meetings generally only include around 100 people.

Afterward, Randolph was gracious, congratulating Kemp. But he said he ran because he wanted for Hillsborough Democrats to have a choice.

In his speech, Randolph discussed a "whispering campaign" about his candidacy. There had been speculation about why he had switched from running as vice chair, to the chairmanship. Randolph denied speculation that he was pushed to run by some Democrats who didn’t want Kemp.

In other races last night, Chris Brown was elected vice chair; Ella Coffee was elected secretary and Marilyn Cappiello was re-elected treasurer. Sally Phillips was elected state committee woman, and Alan Clendinan was voted state committee man.

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